Suicides almost double among 50-somethings
May 3rd, 2013
10:48 AM ET

Suicides almost double among 50-somethings

Teen suicides often get the most media attention - tragic stories like that of Canadian teen Amanda Todd remind us that depression is a serious mental health issue for adolescents. But a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows more attention needs to be directed at preventing suicide in adults as well.

Between 1999 and 2010, suicides in the 35-to-64 age group increased 28.4%, according to the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Suicides among people aged 50 to 59 years old specifically almost doubled during that time period.

More than 38,000 Americans killed themselves in 2010; that's more than double those who were killed in a homicide that same year, according to the CDC. In 2009, the number of deaths from suicide in the United States surpassed the number of deaths from motor vehicle crashes for the first time.

“Suicide is a tragedy that is far too common,” CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden said in a statement. “This report highlights the need to expand our knowledge of risk factors so we can build on prevention programs that prevent suicide.”

Suicide rates in this age group were highest among American Indians and Alaska Natives, according to the report. The next biggest increase was seen in whites. Among American Indians and Alaska Natives, the suicide rate for women jumped 81.4%; for men it was a 59.5% increase.

The three most common suicide methods were firearms, poisoning and suffocation.

Nobody has data yet on why suicides are increasing in this age group, says Lanny Berman, executive director of the American Association of Suicidology. "But the working assumption is that it's related to the economic recession."

The 2007 recession affected middle-aged males more than any other demographic, he says. Job loss and other financial difficulties can lead to depression.

We're probably never going to have a causal explanation for the growing suicide rate, Berman says, but future research may be able to show specific trends that were occurring side-by-side during the same time period.

If you or a loved one needs help, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or visit Suicidepreventionlifeline.org.

soundoff (815 Responses)
  1. Ted

    sad article.

    June 7, 2013 at 12:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. timelord7202

    Isn't it great how we life in a pro-life country?

    June 7, 2013 at 12:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. evan

    How many of those will eventually be connected to prescripts that cause suicidal tendencies?

    Your bodies are being used by the pharma industry for massive profits, people!

    June 7, 2013 at 12:44 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Brian

      the pharma industry combined with all the pesticides, food additives. Some friends and I were talking about this very topic a couple of weeks ago, how so many people are committing suicide and how so very many are some type of anti-depressant or anti-anxiety meds. Suicide is so common now that none of group of 14 didn't know at least one close friend or relative that committed suicide. The next epedemic and people don't want to talk openly about mental health issues in this country. Instead they point to guns or parenting or movies as the only causes for suicide or violent behavior or kids that can't sit still in class. There is something going on and it isn't just parenting skills.

      June 7, 2013 at 13:16 | Report abuse |
    • Real

      "How many of those will eventually be connected to prescripts that cause suicidal tendencies? Your bodies are being used by the pharma industry for massive profits, people!"

      Well, the people referred to in this article will not "eventually" be anything because they are dead -however the living ones that go to a doctor for help are made to feel like crap for asking for help, and god forbid a sedative is asked for by the 50 year old. So the 50 year old is just told to go home and do yoga and it will be all better. Yeah right! Hence more 50 year olds that commit suicide.

      August 3, 2013 at 00:10 | Report abuse |
    • Dina

      That's not the issue. When you can't support yourself and find work, you sure as heck can't afford any prescriptions or even drugs on the street. The problem is a bad economy when people can't find work to support themselves and their families. It's a blow to anyone's self-esteem.

      August 7, 2016 at 23:43 | Report abuse |
  4. Joe

    Hippy-ology might sell, but it doesnt work.

    June 7, 2013 at 12:51 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ficheye

      The use of the word 'hippy' is always pretty funny. I'm not sure what it even means anymore. But it really has no place in this column.

      June 7, 2013 at 13:12 | Report abuse |
    • WhistleBerries

      About half of the world population believes in some form of reincarnation, or, life after life. What if they are right? Most of the reincarnationists believe that suicide is like flunking preshcool or kindergarten. If one succeeds at suicide, one has to come back for a "do over," with more lessons required. The teachers might say, "Oh, you thought you had it tough because you could not find a job. Well, this time, we will make it more interesting for you. You will go back as a mixed race person of the opposite sex, with at least three medical issues." Then, poof, you are reborn into that. If such a thing were possible, who would want to take such a risk? Not me or anyone I know...

      June 7, 2013 at 13:28 | Report abuse |
  5. Independent

    Some suicides in this age group are from chronic pain sufferers. DEA has made it difficult for a lot of chronic pain sufferers to get the proper medicines they need. It is rumored that the race driver in Florida took his life because he was in such pain. Florida laws are very very strict on pain meds. Junkies have ruined it for those with chronic pain. DEA laws must be changed. If you have MRI's, etc. proving you are a chronic pain sufferer your doctor should be allowed to provide you with adequate meds. This has become a serious problem, with large amount baby boomers.

    June 7, 2013 at 12:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. LarryT

    No hope, can't cope. I was there 40 years ago. Not anymore!

    June 7, 2013 at 12:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. mlblogscbgoldsmith

    Our choice. One of the few true choices one gets in this life. And at the end of the day, life is a circle with one cosmic day a top the food chain and the next as fossil fuel. The only thing mistake is in think is that folks think this life and we matter. Dream on.

    June 7, 2013 at 13:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Mel

    People have lost their homes, their jobs, their life savings. Is it any wonder why people feel like ending it all. Stay strong. This too shall pass.

    June 7, 2013 at 13:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. James PDX

    You can always kill yourself. But once done, it can't be undone. There is always something worth doing or seeing. If you're planning on killing yourself anyway, take advantage of the freedom that gives you and go do whatever you want to do. Maybe this will even bring about some change that makes life worth living again.

    June 7, 2013 at 13:06 | Report abuse | Reply
    • laurie

      Good idea. That goes to the root. We all have been trained to do what we don't want to do and not what we do want to do.

      June 7, 2013 at 13:19 | Report abuse |
  10. a_voice_usa

    Has anyone ever thought that we would be dead at 50 if there were no modern medicine and technology. Birth rate would not be nearly as high, and life expectancy would be much shorter. It is the side effect of human development. Let's face it, there will be casualties along with the progress. Even though we try to avoid the subject anyway that we can, only the most adaptive will survive and prosper.

    June 7, 2013 at 13:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. shawn poland

    gee how many were on big pharma mind rot drugs? they kill over 10,000 a year with suicide, when not causing violent outbursts. this media outlet isnt about finding solutions, its about goig oh look how bad it is, feel ths way, but never says big pharma causes many suicides! do the research!

    June 7, 2013 at 13:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Jen

    I am sick and tired of the "GREATEST" generation... all they have done is pushed us into the greatest debt ever. They are selfish and never miss a pass at a free government handout. They could care less if there is any meat left on the bone for anyone else.

    My generation has to kill themselves because they are not eligible for for the gravy train the 80 somethings are riding off the tracks. Suicide at least ends the pain... so mom and dad, see when you are ready to join me.

    June 7, 2013 at 13:10 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bucko

      You got that right. My father and uncle "owned" their cushy jobs. No one messed with them. No threats of layoffs or bean counters breathing down their necks. Both retired in the 80's before the screws started turning. Good retirement, social security, wonderful medical. They want for nothing.

      June 7, 2013 at 13:18 | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      So tired of people whinning you have to work for something and trying to blame a different generation for all their problems. Like you would have done any different than the ones that went before you. You would have signed up for and paid into Social Security savings account just like that generation did, you would have worked at a factory that promised you retirement savings, just like that generation did

      Stop pretending your parents or grandparents cause your problems and stand on your own two feet. Kids didn't seem to mind that generation when they were benefitting from a roof over their head, cars in the driveway, clothes on their back and vacations every year.

      June 7, 2013 at 13:30 | Report abuse |
  13. MEA

    Which generation was in charge of sending all the manufacturing jobs overseas??? because they suck...

    June 7, 2013 at 13:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Kevorkian

    This outcome should be expected from persons who make poor lifestyle choices - too many Happy Meals, too much NoScore T-Ball. They cannot compete nor handle life's challenges and disappointments.

    Life is not NambeePambeeLand - Sorry

    June 7, 2013 at 13:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Andacar

    Nobody has data yet on why suicides are increasing in this age group, says Lanny Berman, executive director of the American Association of Suicidology. "But the working assumption is that it's related to the economic recession."

    It doesn't take a genius to figure this out. I'm 50, just went through major life threatening health problems, and lost my job at the same time. Insurance companies do everything they can to get rid of you, and it's virtually impossible to find decent work at this age. I also know all about chronic pain and how hard it is to get medication. Thanks junkies!

    Let's be clear, I'm NOT fishing for sympathy; I'm doing pretty well. But I know a lot of other people in my age bracket that aren't, and man do I ever understand why.

    June 7, 2013 at 13:20 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Saundra J. Raynor

      Your comment is right on about insurance companies. I have been paying premiums all my life and never filed a claim. When I did file a claim for $30,000 theft, it was rejected(and my homeowners insurance cancelled) because I wasn't living in the house at the time. I was in the process of evicting the SOBs.

      June 8, 2013 at 20:24 | Report abuse |
  16. LeMeow

    Quit your crying and get back to work!

    June 7, 2013 at 13:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Dreaming

    Some of these 40-60 year olds who have worked hard and had an otherwise good employment record have found themselves laid off after years with a company. Some of them lost their retirement savings in the debacle of the Recession, which remains ongoing. Many cannot find new work that pays close to what their former jobs did and many are already still paying mortgages, and college tuition for children to be able to afford to get re-trained or add another degree. Those who are fortunate enough to still have savings after all of this, are now living on it and watching what should have been retirement security go out the door and into the mail with their other bills. They can literally watch their old-age deteriorate day by day ..into what will be a hand to mouth existence. These same 40-60 year olds still have parents who may be dependent on them for support or care and these same 40-60 year olds are now suffering from illnesses related to age and stress and are now making choices between buying medications, keeping the health insurance paid, or just skipping doses of the high blood pressure meds or insulin or anti-depressants and hoping for the best. For the foreseeable future, things do not look any better..

    June 7, 2013 at 13:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. us_1776

    This is what happens when the unemployment rate is really about THREE times what the govt is saying.


    June 7, 2013 at 14:43 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Saundra J. Raynor

      Exactly. Because they don't count people like me who have given up looking; guess I'm too old.

      June 8, 2013 at 20:29 | Report abuse |
  19. Catherine Kalli

    Do you think it might have something to do with corporations throwing people over the age of 50 out the door because of increased healthcare costs and to decrease salaries by hiring inexperienced young, after they have devoted their lives to their jobs – without hope of survival given they are too "old" to get another job given the stereotype, too young to collect SS which would not cover their expenses anyway, there are no laws to protect and it is considered okay to do?

    July 14, 2013 at 15:45 | Report abuse | Reply
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